5 Reasons to Try Solo Travel

Last week, I decided to take a bus to London for a few days by myself. My time alone involved lots of Chinese food, discounted West End musical tickets, and ultimately missing my bus back to Brussels. It was an adventure, to say the least, and it was much needed. Not only did this trip remind me of my love for London, but it reminded me of how much I enjoy traveling alone. Stepping off of a plane (or bus, in this case) into a city where you don’t know anyone provides a fresh start, even if only for a few days. You can be whoever you want. You can do whatever you want. And when you are in charge of your own plans, you are bound to gain lots of confidence. Although the list is endless, let’s talk about 5 reasons you should try traveling alone.

1. Your plans are the only plans

Have you ever been with a group of people who wanted to go to one museum while you wanted to go to another? Or who wanted to eat sushi while you wanted Italian food? Compromise is the key to successfully traveling with groups. But when you’re traveling alone, the only person you have to compromise with is yourself! You make all the decisions throughout your travels, allowing you to shape your trip exactly the way you want.

2. You will be more focused on your surroundings

Oftentimes when I am traveling with friends, I am focused on our conversations, rather than the beautiful architecture and landmarks surrounding us. When I am alone, however, I am simply free to marvel at the world around me.

3. You are more likely to meet new people

When I am traveling alone, I find myself more willing to talk to people around me – especially to those who are also solo traveling! This past week in London, I made two new friends in my hostel and had a great conversation with a guy from Australia while seeing Heathers the Musical. It’s easy to interact solely with the people you’re traveling with so being alone gives you that extra push to branch out.

4. You will learn to appreciate your own company

Eating alone in a restaurant or park may sound uncomfortable in the beginning. But I promise that once you overcome the awkwardness, doing activities alone can be peaceful. I can’t promise that you won’t receive some odd looks from people but just brush them off and appreciate your own company.

5. Most importantly, it’s empowering!

As a woman, I have felt especially discouraged in the past when it came to traveling alone. After all, there are certain safety concerns while traveling that women have to worry about that often aren’t issues for men. But I’ve found that with the right research and general awareness of my surroundings, traveling alone is absolutely possible. Additionally, packing up my bags and heading to a foreign country despite doubts from others is empowering and a testament to my own courage. I encourage every woman to take a trip alone at some point in her life. You will see that you are so much more capable than you think. With that being said, this also goes for men too. It can be a daunting task for anyone and tackling your fears is the only way to grow.

Solo travel can seem intimidating or perhaps even lonely. But with the right mindset, it can be an adventure full of growth and reflection. So be brave and buy that plane ticket!

 

Check out some pictures from my most recent trip!

 

 

Why Go to Grad School Abroad?

In 2018, graduate school is a path that more and more students are choosing to pursue after obtaining their Bachelor’s degrees. But if you’re anything like me, the cost of graduate programs in the U.S. is enough to make you cringe, if not discourage you from pursuing your dream altogether. Well, I decided to find another solution, one that many Americans are discovering as the perfect alternative to spending the rest of your life in debt from education. I decided to find a graduate program abroad.

My experience in grad school has been nothing short of incredible. There have been ups and downs, to say the least. But I would recommend this experience to anyone. The program I chose is part of a British university with a campus located in Brussels, Belgium. On January 1, 2018, I packed my bags and started a new life here in Brussels. Not only has this decision saved me from extra financial burden, but I have learned so much about myself and the world through this experience. Here are 6 reasons why you should go to grad school abroad.

  1. You will be exposed to a new culture 

Travel is the best way to change your perspective and learn about other cultures. But living in a new country is very different than being a tourist. Becoming a resident allows you to discover the places that locals like and learn how they view the world. As a politics student, this is fascinating to me. Not only can you immerse yourself in the culture you’re living in but you’ll meet people from all over the world. My current roommates are from China, India, and Brazil, and my classmates are from every corner of the globe. The relationships and knowledge that I’ve gained would not have been possible without moving to Belgium.

2.  You can acquire new language skills 

Although my graduate program is in English, I’ve had to work on learning French for things as simple as reading food labels at the grocery store. Tourist destinations are flooded with English speakers but when you venture out of the city center, you are forced to learn a bit of the local language. After 8 months, my French isn’t great but hey, at least I can read food labels! There’s nothing like immersion, friends.

3. You can find a city that is tailored to your studies

I currently study Political Strategy and Communication with a specialization in Foreign Policy. With the European Union and NATO headquarters here, Brussels is the perfect place for my studies. When choosing my program, I took into account the school location and I am incredibly grateful that I did. Regardless of what you study, you can find a city where you will thrive.

4. Proximity to other travel destinations

I’m on a student budget. So picking up and going to Paris for a weekend isn’t realistic if I’m living in the U.S. But in Europe? Flights and trains to major European cities are obscenely cheap. And if you pair those with budget hostels, you’ve got a student-friendly travel itinerary. Regardless of where you go to school, you will have the opportunity to explore a new continent for prices that aren’t possible from the U.S.

5. Should I mention cost again?

I’ve already touched on this, but international grad schools make American grad school tuition fees look like a crime. If you can find cheap housing, you are bound to save money by heading to a new country.

6. Resume, Resume, Resume 

It doesn’t matter if you study art, politics, or business. International experience shows future employers that you can bring a global perspective to your work. It shows that you are comfortable interacting with people from other cultures. It shows that you have the initiative and independence to move to a new country and start a life for yourself. The skills that I’ve acquired through my move to Brussels outweigh anything I could learn in a classroom. And trust me, this is something that most employers know too.

Moving abroad isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. It can be challenging and of course, homesickness is very real (let me tell you, my first week in Brussels was rough). But the lessons I’ve learned in just 8 months have been fundamental to my growth as a person and will stay with me for the rest of my life. When people ask me if I recommend grad school abroad, my answer is and always will be – absolutely.

 

My school – https://www.kent.ac.uk/brussels/

Instagram – @christineoswald